Kenya transformative Health ICT project hits headwinds
From his elementary workstation off Riverside Drive, the lanky but now haggard founder and group CEO of Seven Seas Technologies Group is counting down to a financial disaster unless a miracle saves him.
The Sh4.9 billion Health Care Information Technology (HCIT) deal he inked with the Ministry of Health to deploy an information system and supporting ICT infrastructure across 98 county hospitals is ebbing away in controversy, and with it Sh1 billion investment. It is a corner office stripped of all pomp characteristic of blue-chip companies; no comfy leather seats for visitors, no gold paintings invoking vain fantasies and no over-decorated gypsum ceiling for heavenly relations. Simply orchestrated, just like the motto of the company he has run since he was 25, the office is both the stuff of simplicity and a contradiction of terms; few floors, few staff but lofty dreams and vast connections.
The half horseshoe desk he sits on brooding over the good, the bad and the ugly of the Medical Equipment Scheme (MES) is pushed to the wall, and with a right angle elevation to the right, directly to the door. Essentially, he is always facing the wall, except that he has mounted a huge projector screen on that wall on which he projects his Mac computer. From this screen, he watches the twists and turns of MES through the lens of a parliamentary inquiry, and now, the coronavirus updates. Behind him, on his left is a cabinet whose top is bedecked with mementos and trophies collected over many years of toil and successful executions. A picture of a boy, probably his son, hangs overhead. To his left is a half cabinet lined up with books. Sitting on his desk are probably his latest reads; Salim Amin’s Kenya Through My Fathers Eyes, Wonders of the Holy Land and Kenyatta Cabinets, the latter a compilation of the Kenya Year Book Editorial.
An Optica eye care package rests besides them, probably delivered in his absence. In these blurry times, he needs a better eyesight. He had just arrived from Naivasha, probably from a business pitch. His phone never kept silent. Throughout our chat, it kept nudging him. Michael King’ori Macharia or simply Mike, talks quite fast and loves to scribble his points down. You could mistake him for an exhibitionist, except that he is not. For 22 years now, he has run Seven Seas, conquering one market after the other, and since 2013, bagging major government tenders. Before his company ran into current headwinds, he had successfully pitched and implemented the delivery of integrated service delivery system, Huduma Centres, to the Ministry of Devolution. And most immediately, in the period preceding the HCIT tender, Seven Seas had successfully partnered with General Electric (GE) in its delivery of the main MES tender of supplying 98 hospitals across the counties with medical equipment. So when he appeared before the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Managed Equipment Services (MES), he was in his perfect-pitch element. He was on a mission to conquer Parliament, regain his foothold project and reassure global investors who had injected capital into the project.
By Nzau Musau